By DR. ROSEMARY LICHTMAN and DR. PHYLLIS GOLDBERG
Just as you would expect that you needed time to work through the death of a loved one, give yourself permission to grieve this kind of "death." If you haven't already started one, a journal can be a useful tool in this process. At the beginning, you can write about what you will miss, not being married to your ex-husband. Let out the pain, anger, sadness, anxiety that you are feeling and accept that they are normal and common reactions to divorce. If your feelings of abandonment remind you of earlier issues you had as a child, you may want to consult with a professional to separate your past history from your current situation.
As you write about these emotions in your journal, you will one day notice that there are many blank pages left, still waiting for your thoughts. When you are ready, you can begin to put new and different headings on the next pages of your journal: what did I do to get over hard times in the past, who can I talk to for support now, what resources do I have to help me, what are my personal strengths, what do I need to do differently now? As you answer these questions for yourself, you will begin to feel more empowered about the choices open to you now.
Soon, you will be able to start more new sections of your journal, brainstorming about goals that are important to you and options that are open to you. Set up new page headings and ask yourself to think about: what would I like to do with the rest of my life, what new doors have opened to me, what opportunities do I have now? Then as you make your plans for how you want to accomplish your goals, lay out the objectives you will need to achieve to reach them and a timeline for doing so. You will find that, as you work through this process, you will let go of your negative emotions and instead focus on planning for your future and immersing yourself in your life now. Dr. Rosemary Lichtman and Dr. Phyllis Goldberg have guided their clients through reassessing their lives, before, during and after divorce. They created http://www.HerMentorCenter.com, which provides coaching services and a free e-zine, and are co-authors of the book Family Relationships.